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  1. #1
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    Why does cycling kill muscle?

    Everyone keeps saying that cycling eats away at fat and muscle mass, but im wondering why? Shouldnt the use of your arms and legs produce more muscle? adn even if you dont use much upper body during rides, wouldnt it just not affect muscle?

    Just wondering...

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    Toyota Racing Dev. PWRDbyTRD's Avatar
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    the way your muscles grow strong is you damage them and they repair...that's about as simple as it gets....getting stronger each time.
    Linkage...My 2004 Kona Hoss Dee-Lux My Mindless Banter
    Disclaimer: I'm 425lb...I put unnormal loads on my bike. This should help you in answering any of my questions.

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    H23
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingkelly
    Everyone keeps saying that cycling eats away at fat and muscle mass, but im wondering why? Shouldnt the use of your arms and legs produce more muscle? adn even if you dont use much upper body during rides, wouldnt it just not affect muscle?

    Just wondering...

    A sedentary person will certainly loose fat as a result of starting a rigorous cycling program. They may think they are loosing muscle too, but unless they are starving themselves, I don't see how that can happen. This can be checked by measuring strength.

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    but most cyclists have tiny arms, and i thought it was because cycling eats away any muscle mass... Somebody here said that theres almost no point in trying to lift weights and cycle, since its almost a waste?

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    don't be so angry clancy98's Avatar
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    no, I think they peobably meant that the strength in the arms is useless for cycling (which is debatable)..

    but also, muscle eats fat. get more to get less, right?
    Irregardless is not a word, and you do not sound more intelligent using it.

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    Senior Member joeprim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingkelly
    but most cyclists have tiny arms, and i thought it was because cycling eats away any muscle mass... Somebody here said that theres almost no point in trying to lift weights and cycle, since its almost a waste?
    I lift and ride. Both feel good so I do both.


    Joe

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    Hmmm, so if i jsut do like 50k rides, maybe once a week, it wont deplete muscle mass in arms?

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    Toyota Racing Dev. PWRDbyTRD's Avatar
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    LoL...not in your arms...
    Linkage...My 2004 Kona Hoss Dee-Lux My Mindless Banter
    Disclaimer: I'm 425lb...I put unnormal loads on my bike. This should help you in answering any of my questions.

  9. #9
    HJR
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    Not an expert, but an athlete for many years. Endurance events reduce muscle mass because the body can use muscle for energy when it runs out of other fuels. Muscle growth requires more physical exertion for a shorter interval. Two examples. Long distance runners versus sprinters. Two "running" events, two distinct body styles. Sprinters look stocky in comparison. This is also the reason "cheating" sprinters use steriods, while endurance events use doping and EPO. The other example, bicycle sprinters versus TDF riders. This is why interval training is important. You want more muscle while riding? Climb steeper hills, riding for shorter times. Climbing uses you arms as well as your legs. It is the difference in weight lifting between reps and weight.

  10. #10
    bikin'barbie
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    Quote Originally Posted by joeprim
    I lift and ride. Both feel good so I do both.


    Joe
    I'm with you!!!

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    blp
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    mabey after a while it makes you lose muscle mass but I just started mountain biking about 4 1/2 months ago and I have gotten 100% stronger, proved to myself by getting up stuff that I couldnt get up when I started (by the way feels great!) so wouldnt this mean I am gaining muscle mass? When I started I just got over a severe asthma period of about 2 years where I couldnt do anything but watch TV and play video games so I was basically a walking peice of fat.

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    Dehydration will break down muscle, prolonged exercise will break down muscle, calorie deficit will break down muscle (especially when there is no fat to lose, energy has to come from somewhere). Combine these with little to no upper building lifting and you are bound to have small arms.

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    Most professional cyclists don't want alot of upper body mass, as it just adds more weight to hold them back. They have very strong legs, but skinny arms. If your diet is proper, you can have strong cycling legs, and lift weigths to maintain your upper body mass as well.
    If you do both kinds of excersise frequently, then you want to make sure you do two things to help prevent muscle loss from excessive excersise.

    1. Load up on carbs prior to a bike ride. This will provide you with enough energy to help prevent your body from searching out energy by breaking down your muscle tissue. Try to eat something after your ride with a little protein to help repair your legs and respiratory muscles.

    2. When you are lifting weights, do kinda the same thing, but you shouldn't need to really load up on the carbs prior to your workout as you do for cycling, as this is not cardio-vascular excersise, so it doesn't draw as many immediate calories. However, it draws tons of calories after your workout to repair the torn cells in the muscle tissue. So, what you need to do is consume lots of protein after lifting weights. Try to keep the carbs low, and protein high after lifting weights. The energy from high protein foods like steak, or whey protein shakes, will be used to repair the muscle, and excess energy will be drawn from your fat cells, to lean you out with stronger larger muscles and less body fat.

    Hope this helps.

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    Don't keep the carbs too low after a lifting session. Your insulin response is what drives your cells uptake of amino acids and glycogen. After lifting your body should be very responsive to carbs (insulin sensitivity) and a little maltodextrin or dextrose will do the trick to make sure any protein intake is able to get into the muscle cells.

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    That's why i specifically made mention of those whey protein energy shakes, as they have maltodextrin in most of them specifically for this reason. If you eat meat as a source of protein, there is natural amounts of carbs in the fat, but you also want somethihng to go with it, as meat is not a real high carb food. A good potato, and some fruit also helps.
    At the same time though, you don't want your carbs soring high, otherwise, you could get a fat building process once the muscles are repaired.

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    mmm, good shiat patriot, that clears up a lot.. so ill be eatin fruit after a workout, and carbs before cycling... Are bagels with cream cheese full of carbs or protein?

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    Yes, bagels have good carbs. Any breads, or pastas are loaded with carbs. Fruit after a workout is good too. But, if you do some weight lifting, you may want something with some protein after your workout too.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingkelly
    mmm, good shiat patriot, that clears up a lot.. so ill be eatin fruit after a workout, and carbs before cycling... Are bagels with cream cheese full of carbs or protein?
    Bagel is carby. Put some peanut butter on there instead of the cream cheese and you got some good protein too. Or hummus if you aren't a peanut butter fan.

  19. #19
    Pat
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    Cycling does not eat away at muscle mass.

    However, upper body muscle mass (except for the little you need to rock the bike on an out of the saddle climb) is just a liability especially in hill climbing. Competition favors cyclists who are as light as possible and anything that is not helping has to go.

    Some people said that Lance Armstrong's bout with cancer actually HELPED him as a cyclist. Armstrong had been a triathelete and as such had much more upper body mass then he needed. But he could never get rid of it until he had chemotherapy which pretty much gets rid of everything. So when he recovered and went back into training, he got his cycling muscles back and his aerobic power but never put on the upper body mass. The result was that he was 10-15 lbs lighter which made him a force on hill climbs.

    Now bicycling is an aerobic sport. High level aerobic activity requires sugar (glycogen). Once the body has ripped through the stored glycogen, it can only get sugar by ripping up muscle mass and converting it into sugar. If you do a lot of high intensity aerobic exercise and do not eat enough carbos, you could easily end up catabolizing muscle. But that is a matter of the balance of exercise and diet then anything else.

    Another thing, is that sports take a fair amount of time. I suppose one could be a decent body builder and a decent cyclist but very few people are. The sports are quite different. Body building does not require anywhere near the aerobic capacity cycling does and a cyclist has no real need to lug around all that upper body weight. So why bother?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pat
    Cycling does not eat away at muscle mass.

    I suppose one could be a decent body builder and a decent cyclist but very few people are. The sports are quite different. Body building does not require anywhere near the aerobic capacity cycling does and a cyclist has no real need to lug around all that upper body weight. So why bother?
    The legendary body builder Bill Pearl who took place in every body building event he ever entered raced bikes when he retired from body building. I guess he did well in some local races, but I don't remember him winning anything significant.

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    Guess I should read my posts before I send them.

    Bill Pearl took FIRST place in every bodybuilding contest he entered and he entered some of the biggest - Mr. Olympia and Mr. Universe.

  22. #22
    Hucker Extraordinare BigHit-Maniac's Avatar
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    Wow, this's a good discussion. I'm diggin' it. I have found that at 19 years of age, 160 LBS, and lifting... that if I cycle and do lots of cardio... that my metabolism is SO HIGH that it *does* take away my muscle. I have to actually sit on my ass to keep my muscle.. believe it or not. I eat 6-8 meals a day, making about 2750-3000 calories a day. My GOAL is to bulk up, and get a bigger chest and arms. I've found that since I stopped cycling so heavily from summer, I have easily put on the muscle. In the summer when I'm biking like crazy, I drop down to 140-145 LBS in no-time flat, I lose all my muscle (cept legs ), and get REALLY skinny.

    To balance this out, I began supplementing. I take whey-protein shakes 3 times a day, as well as try to eat "clean". (NO fast food, NO pop, lots of veggies, peanut butter, fruits, nuts, salads, fish, chicken, potatoes, etc). I've put on a little bit of fat since my weight-training has started, but just as quick as I gain it, my muscle burns it right back off. I must say that with my weight-lifting since August of this year, I have put on 20 lbs of muscle, look & feel better, and can EXPLODE on my bike. I can "sprint" on my bike a helluva lot faster and harder than I used to, even just this year.

    As a whole it's a "balance" and it certainly depends on your goals, or what you want. For me, I have to watch my amount of cardio. For heavier set people, the more cardio the better. Genetics, BMI, and body-type have a LOT to do with it too.

    Hope that helps some-what.

    -Matt
    Got Nine Inches ? Cuz I do. http://67.19.50.55/forums/images/smilies/eviltongue.gif

    AIM: MtnBikeHucker

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    bighit, thats exactly how i am! Ive gotten bone skinny over the summer, and am starting to look a little more normal now that i dont ride as often (having a busted bike helps too). Im eating like crazy, and am gaining practically nothing.. which i guess is a good thing?

  24. #24
    Hucker Extraordinare BigHit-Maniac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingkelly
    bighit, thats exactly how i am! Ive gotten bone skinny over the summer, and am starting to look a little more normal now that i dont ride as often (having a busted bike helps too). Im eating like crazy, and am gaining practically nothing.. which i guess is a good thing?
    Yeah, I hear ya. I'm definitely sick of being "small."
    To give you an idea of my transformation... in July this year.. I was approx 140LBs. I'm 5' 10".
    I now weigh right under 170LB's, and have only put on marginal fat. I'm trying to get BEEGER
    For me it's definitely a struggle to gain mass, as it used to be the exact opposite for me. I've found that if I add just 45 minutes more a WEEK of cardio.. that I drop muscle mass. I try to lift heavy, with fewer reps, and then come home and slam down a protein shake, a scoop of peanut butter, and a banana.

    Oh well, ride on... and to those who are trying to keep their mass... EAT MORE... LOTS MORE.
    Got Nine Inches ? Cuz I do. http://67.19.50.55/forums/images/smilies/eviltongue.gif

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    Quote Originally Posted by kingkelly
    Everyone keeps saying that cycling eats away at fat and muscle mass, but im wondering why? Shouldnt the use of your arms and legs produce more muscle? adn even if you dont use much upper body during rides, wouldnt it just not affect muscle?

    Just wondering...
    You can lose muscle if blood sugar goes too low.....the body then releases a hormone called cortisol which breaks down muscle into amino acids. These amino acids can be converted into glucose in the liver through a process called gluconeogenesis. Usually cortisol is not released until liver glycogen is depleted.

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